Tag: Environment

Round 5 in fight over highway widening through redwood trees

It’s unclear why CDOT persists in efforts to start a highway project that could pose a threat to redwood forests in Humboldt County, California. @bberwyn photo.

Activists stand their ground against destruction of trees

Staff Report

A contentious proposal to widen U.S. Highway 101 through redwood groves in Humboldt County, California is once again facing a court challenge from conservation groups and local residents, who say the state transportation agency failed to adequately review and disclose environmental impacts.

This is the fifth time CDOT has been sued over the project that could needlessly damage or destroy thousand-year-old redwood trees in California’s iconic Richardson Grove State Park. Some of the trees in the park are trees up to 3,000 years old, 18 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. Caltrans has pursued this project solely to incrementally improve passage for oversized commercial trucks, and continues to rely on inadequate environmental review. Continue reading “Round 5 in fight over highway widening through redwood trees”

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Will the GOP roll back Obama-era mining bans?

Attacks on public lands continue

The Grand Canyon. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

After more than a century of reckless mining that created a toxic legacy of pollution, the Obama administration finally started trying to prevent even more destruction by placing a few areas, including watersheds around the Grand Canyon, off-limits.

Even those modest restrictions are apparently too much for the mining industry and the politicians the industry has bought in Washington, D.C. Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop wants to reverse some of the mining bans enacted during the Obama era, says the Center for Biological Diversity, citing a letter from Bishop to Sec. Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Continue reading “Will the GOP roll back Obama-era mining bans?”

Western fires take toll on water supplies

Erosion a huge factor as burned areas grow

A wildfire burns in Texas. Photo via U.S. Forest Service.

Staff Report

The growth of wildfires in the West could double the amount of sediment moving through the region’s rivers, U.S. Geological researchers found in a new study. Increased sediments can affect both water quality and the amount of water available for communities.

The USGS scientists analyzed a collection of climate, fire and erosion models for 471 large watersheds throughout the western U.S. They found that by 2050, the amount of sediment in more than one-third of watersheds could at least double. In nearly nine-tenths of the watersheds, sedimentation is projected to increase by more than 10 percent.

Continue reading “Western fires take toll on water supplies”

New study reveals whale shark secrets

Science helps inform conservation

Little by little, giant whale sharks are giving up some of their secrets. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

Ocean biologists are starting to learn about the world’s largest fish, and the information should help efforts to protect endangered whale sharks.

Giant whale sharks, up to 60 feet long, feed mostly on tiny drifting animals and small fish like sardines. To find enough food, they endlessly cruise vast reaches of ocean to find dense swarms of prey. The learn more, scientists have been tracking the whale sharks in the eastern tropical Pacific, finding that they spend most of their time along ocean fronts, which are dynamic boundaries of cold and warm water masses that stimulate life. Continue reading “New study reveals whale shark secrets”

Federal court stalls Las Vegas water grab

Federal court slows Las Vegas water grab.

Environmental studies flawed

Staff Report

A federal court has at least temporarily stifled a major water grab in Nevada, finding that the Bureau of Land Management didn’t adequately study and disclose impacts from groundwater pumping scheme by Las Vegas. At issue are losses of wetlands and wildlife habitat that would result from the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s massive groundwater pipeline development project.

The court ruled that the BLM violated federal environmental laws by failing to demonstrate how it would compensate for the destruction of thousands of acres of wetlands and sensitive habitat in eastern Nevada. Continue reading “Federal court stalls Las Vegas water grab”

Western monarchs in steep decline

Will Monarch survive? @bberwyn photo.

Concerted conservation actions needed to save species

Staff Report

Monarch butterflies in the western U.S. have declined even more dramatically than believed, putting the population at risk of extinction, according to new research. In As recently as the 1980s, about 10 million monarchs over-wintered in coastal California, but today that’s down to about 300,000, said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver, who led the study, published last week in the journal Biological Conservation. Continue reading “Western monarchs in steep decline”

Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems

A new study documents ecological changes in Lake Michigan. Photo via @NASA_EO

How will fisheries managers respond?

Staff Report

The Great Lakes have seen successive invasions by non-native species that alter the ecosystem, including quagga mussels that filter the water and remove nutrients. At least partly as a result of the invasive mussels, Lake Michigan is becoming less hospitable to Chinook salmon, according to a new study led by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Michigan State University.

The scientists concluded that stocking could help sustain a population of Chinook salmon, but that the lake’s ecosystem is now more conducive to stocking lake trout and steelhead salmon. These two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels. Continue reading “Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems”